The symbolic meaning of a firefly is about the power of life. That life within us teaches us to believe in magic and to believe that anything is possible.
I grew up in the small industrial town of Kanpur. My parents were teachers, and like all middle-class folks, they worked hard, lived a simple life, and tried to bring up their children the best way they could.
My father is a scientist, but loved and still loves reading poetry. He came up with my name from a poem by Tagore called Swapno aamar Jonaki dwipto praaner monika (my dreams are fireflies flamed by the light of life).
As a child though I hated my name because most people mispronounced it, and shortened it. I also didn’t really know what I wanted to do in life, and followed the path prescribed by family and peers. Therefore, I studied Science and opted for the typical career path of a software engineer because it was deemed “safe”.
It is only in the last few years that I have started thinking about what my dreams are, what drives me, and what makes me happy. Despite having a double Master’s degree in Computer Science and Chemistry, I decided to change my field to writing and editing. I started from scratch and worked as a journalist and then an editor. While I continue to edit for a living, any spare time that I get, I write. I have written poetry, fiction, non-fiction, travelogues, and reviews. Recently, I have started painting as well.
In 2016, I got selected for a writing residency in Spain. I had broken my wrist a week before my travel date, but decided to go ahead for it. I flew from Delhi to Madrid, then Seville, Granada, and finally to my retreat, in the mountains called Sierra Nevada. I spent a week and wrote and painted.
Last year, I was invited to Italy. Again, to a residency near Florence. I wrote several poems there, and one of those poems won an international poetry contest conducted by Oxford Brookes University, UK. They also nominated my poem for the prestigious Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2018!
Over the last few years, my poetry, fiction, and essays have been published and are forthcoming in India, the USA, the UK, Ireland, Italy, and Singapore in The American Journal of Poetry, Lunch Ticket, So to Speak, Kitaab, The Wire India, The Times of India, and elsewhere. My artwork has won the First Prize at the 2018 Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, and been published in For the Sonorous.
So, to sum up, the tale of the firefly, at least this firefly, is to live as per her own light, and believe in the power of dreams.
I am always looking for interesting collaborations and projects in the area of literature, art, and communication (or at the intersection of these). Do get in touch with me if you have some ideas, and we can see where those go!